Thursday, May 23, 2013

Generation V - M.L. Brennan


Generation V
M.L. Brennan
Roc
 
Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
 
At first glance, Fortitude Scott looks like any other 26-year-old guy who’s finally got his degree in film theory and parlayed it into a solid job at a coffee shop.  The deeper truth, and the truth he’d like to forget, is that he comes from an unusual family.  They’re vampires, and so is he.  Well, almost.  He’s not quite a full vampire yet, and he’d really like to stay that way.  His older brother and sister (they’re centuries older than he is) seem like completely alien beings to him, and he’d rather maintain his humanity for as long as possible.

It was at this point that I thought I’d happened on another dreary, emo, I-hate-being-a-vampire kind of character.  I’m so glad I kept reading, because this book and this character are so much more than that.  Fort comes across as a pretty regular guy with a bunch of not-regular problems.  Sure, he’s not keen on being a creature of the night, but he’s not a whiny, sparkly mess, either.  In fact, when he starts whining, there’s always someone there to call him on it.  And, when the chips are down, he comes through in a big way. 
 
This version of the vampire mythos is original and believable.  Vampires don’t have little vampires.  Making little vampires is a long, difficult, unhappy, and very messy affair.  That’s why there are so few of them.  Fort’s blood mother, Madeleine, is something of a legend, since she has three offspring – a feat unheard of in supernatural circles. It’s because of her astounding success that Luca, a vampire from Italy, travels to the U.S. to meet Madeline.  The meeting is something like heads of state getting together, since Luca has to ask permission to enter Madeline’s territory and Madeline has to extend her hospitality to him. 
 
Luca is the first not-family vampire that Fort has ever met, and he’s not impressed.  The guy travels with a sort of entourage that includes a very young and very obviously abused girl.  The wounds all over the girl’s skin and her dead eyes tell the story.  Fort is horrified and wants to rescue her, but he’s clearly the only one in the room who finds her presence remarkable.  It’s not long before other girls go missing.  It’s no secret to Fort who’s got them, and he plans to stop Luca by any means necessary.
 
Fort’s character has a long and relatable backstory.  I won’t spoil any of it by detailing it here, but he’s got real and justifiable reasons for not wanting to live with his family.  After Luca arrives, Suzume appears in Fort’s life.  She’s a kitsune (a Japanese shapeshifter) hired by Madeline to protect Fort.  As the two of them spend time together, Fort’s character really blossoms and becomes someone you can really root for.  Suzume’s family also has a long history, some of it very darkly touching.  The world-building here is solid and fully realized.  The story’s pace is quite fast, with necessary exposition woven into the narrative in unobtrusive ways.  Each character is a detailed individual, with backstory and solid reasons for their actions and attitudes.  Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys fantasy with an edge.
 
Rating: 8 ½
May 2013
ISBN# 978-0-451-41840-1 (paperback)

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